Hualien County, Taiwan (AP) – Taiwan prosecutors said on Saturday they had questioned the owner of an unmanned truck that slipped on a railroad and caused the country’s worst train disaster in decades that killed 50 people and injured 178 others, though no directive has been made. Charges. .
Taiwan’s Railways Administration said the train was carrying 494 passengers at the start of a long weekend on Friday when it collided with a construction truck that slid down a hillside over the tracks. Several passengers were crushed before the train entered a tunnel, while some survivors had to exit windows and walk along the train’s deck in search of safety.
Authorities initially reported 51 deaths but revised the countdown by one for Saturday.
The truck’s emergency brakes did not operate properly, according to the government’s Disaster Relief Center.
The prosecutor’s office in eastern Hualien County, where the train derailed, confirmed that it had interviewed the owner of the truck, among others, but was not prepared to press charges. Bureau spokeswoman Zhou Fangyi said that procuratorial employees were visiting the morgue on Saturday to examine the bodies.
Her spokeswoman said that President Cai Ingwen had visited hospitals near the accident instead of the site itself so as not to interfere with the rescue work.
This tragic accident caused many injuries and deaths. I came to Hualien today to visit the injured and express my condolences to the families of the deceased passengers. ”“ We will definitely help them in the aftermath. ”
On Friday, Tsai told reporters that she had asked the Transportation Safety Commission to conduct a strict investigation.
Transport Minister Lin Xia Long said the reforms would be accelerated.
“When something like this happens, I feel very sorry and I will take full responsibility,” Lin said after touring the site.
Workers removed the two rear cars from the tracks on Saturday morning. However, a third could not be transported before the tracks were repaired while the other five cars were still confined in the tunnel. Two large construction cranes can be seen next to the train in a remote forested area on the east coast of the island.
The operation should be completed within a week, said Wong Huiping, head of the news group with the Railways Administration. During repairs, he said, all East Coast trains would run parallel to the line that was damaged in the accident, causing a delay of 15 to 20 minutes.
The National Fire Service said the dead included the newly married young train driver and auxiliary driver. The government’s Disaster Response Center said it was the worst rail disaster since a train caught fire in 1948 in a Taipei suburb, killing 64 people.
Train travel is popular during the four-day tomb-sweeping holiday in Taiwan, when families often return to their hometowns to pay their respects at the graves of their elders.
Taiwan is a mountainous island, and most of its 24 million people live on flat lands along the northern and western coasts that are home to most of the island’s farmland and the largest cities and high-tech industries. The sparsely populated east where the accident occurred is popular with tourists, and many of them travel there by train to avoid the mountain roads.
Jennings reported from Taipei, Taiwan.